Sunday, April 24, 2016

Feast of St. Mark the Evangelist



St. Mark, the Evangelist, the author of the second Gospel, is commonly identified as “John Mark” in the Acts of the Apostles (12:12, 25; 15:37). He is the patron saint of: attorneys, notaries, prisoners, and stained glass workers.

Born a Jew, he was baptized and instructed in the faith by St. Peter the Apostle and traveled with him to Rome. He had a close relationship with St. Peter, who referred to him as “my son Mark” (1 Peter 5:13).

Mark traveled with his cousin St. Barnabas and with St. Paul on their first missionary journey in Cyprus (Acts 13:5).  Mark is also said to have evangelized in Alexandria, Egypt and founded the Church there.

Like Luke, Mark was not one of the twelve apostles. Some scholars believe him to be the young man who ran away when Jesus was arrested (Mark 14:51-52).  He is also considered to be the first bishop of Alexandria, Egypt.

According to Eusebius, the Christian historian, Mark died at Alexandria and was martyred for his faith. In the 9th century, Mark’s body was brought to Venice, where he is patron of the city.

Mark’s gospel reads with the immediacy of an eyewitness account. It is the oldest and shortest Gospel in the Bible. It was written in Rome around 65-70 AD for a Gentile audience. The winged Lion is his symbol. This symbol originates from St. Mark's description of John the Baptist's voice "crying out in the wilderness" upon hearing the Word of God (Mark 1:3). His voice is said to have sounded like that of a roaring lion. In addition, the lion signifies the power of the Evangelist's word and the wings signify spiritual elevation.  This lion imagery also appears in a vision of the Prophet Ezekiel, in which four winged creatures represent the four evangelists (Ezekiel 1:10). Matthew is depicted as a human, Mark as a lion, Luke as a bull, and John as an eagle.

Lesson: St. Mark achieved in his life what every Catholic is called to do by virtue of their Baptism: proclaim to the whole world the Good News that is the source of our salvation. There are many ways we can evangelize today – through preaching or teaching or our writing, as Mark did, or through other gifts that we have been given by God: our hospitality, our prayers,  our artistry, our musical talents, etc. Each one of us has the ability and the grace to evangelize, which we received at Baptism and Confirmation.

"Go out into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature." -- Mark 16:15

Collect: O God, who raised up Saint Mark, your Evangelist, and endowed him with the grace to preach the Gospel, grant, we pray, that we may so profit from his teaching as to follow faithfully in the footsteps of Christ. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

~copyright Jean M. Heimann 2016

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